“Do I Have to Go to My Sister-in-Law’s Baby Shower?”

I try really hard to be a good person but I am struggling when it comes to my sister-in-law. I have not always had a good relationship with her, but it got better for about two years. Then, when I called to tell her and my brother-in-law that they were going to be an aunt and uncle, our relationship took a nose-dive.

She did not even wish me congratulations. She called me two weeks later at midnight, drunk, to tell me she wanted to start trying immediately, and congrats. Very odd! During my entire pregnancy, I think she asked how the baby was maybe two times. I saw her once as well (they live in another state).

Once my daughter was born it took one week for my brother-in-law to call (after my husband told his brother to) and two weeks for my SIL to call (after I told my mother-in-law that she had not called). I had to send them a text message to wish them congrats on becoming an aunt and uncle to even get a text response which was a few days after my daughter’s birth.

We all went on vacation together when my daughter was two months old, and they did not want to be around her at all. I made every attempt on our trip to go with the flow — not to complain when they wanted to go to restaurants that did not allow strollers or had other issues that made it difficult for us with a newborn. My sister-in-law was having a bad day and decided to scream at me about my daughter, saying that she was sick of having to hover over my daughter. Crazy!!! I never asked anything of anyone the entire vacation. They did not even hold her.

My daughter is 10 months old now and my husband and I are yet to get a text, phone call or email asking how she is. My sister-in-law is now five months pregnant. It took her a year to get pregnant and I am very happy for them. However, it is hard to want to do anything or go out of my way to show them that I’m happy for them. I am incredibly hurt. I still call and text most times without a response just to see how everything is going in her pregnancy.

Now my question: my mother-in-law is going to give her a baby shower that she will fly in for. Do I have to help? — Bitter SIL

Short answer: No. Just send a gift and a card and be done with it. Longer answer: why do you keep trying? Obviously, your SIL doesn’t really care about you, your husband, or your baby. That’s her problem. I’m sorry that you don’t have the relationship you’d like to have with her, but this bitterness and resentment that keeps building up isn’t going to help. So, just quit trying so hard. Set some boundaries, and lower your expectations way down. Stop texting and calling to ask how her pregnancy is going. And just accept that she doesn’t want a relationship with you. Focus instead on the people who DO want a relationship with you and your daughter. Do you have sisters of your own? Or SILs on your own side of the family? How about friends? How about your mom or mother-in-law? Do any of these people show interest in you and your daughter? If so, embrace that. Celebrate the fact that you have people in your life who care about you. And accept that you aren’t going to be besties — or even friends — with your out-of-state, snotty SIL.

And who knows — maybe once your SIL becomes a mother, that common bond will unite you. Or maybe it won’t. But if you quit expecting anything from her or wishing for any kind of relationship with her or interest from her in your daughter, you won’t be as disappointed when she fails to live up to expectations (because there won’t be any). And maybe you’ll actually be pleasantly surprised if motherhood makes a human out of her and she extends some semblance of compassion and loyalty your way. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.


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  1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

    No, you don’t have to go. Wendy’s right about that. But I think it’s worth going anyway.

    She called you drunk (and I’m assuming upset) two weeks after you told her you were pregnant, and doesn’t talk to you for the length of your pregnancy or shortly after, That doesn’t raise a red flag to you that something may be going on in her life that she hasn’t discussed about? Honestly, how do you know she wasn’t ALREADY trying? Because when I read that line, my very first thought was “she’s really frustrated about you being able to have a baby and her not being able to.” And — fairly or unfairly — I can see it being a shame spiral: she snaps at you, and then she feels bad about it, so she stays away, and then you get close and she snaps again, and . . . you get the picture.

    I know I’m going to get dinged for this, but I think you sound incredibly selfish in this letter, even if I know you don’t mean to be. The entire letter reads like you’re saying “How could she not be happy for me? How can she not want to hold my adorable baby? Why can’t she just be happy for me like everyone else is?” It’s like you’re so consumed with yourself and your baby that you’re not even seeing the obvious signs of her distress right in front of you. And now, when she may finally have exactly what she’s always wanted, you’re deciding to be petty and go tit-for-tat. And, yes, you have the right to do that, and you could justify it, but my grandfather always told me that it’s important to do the right thing for people even if they don’t deserve it.

    So, my opinion? Go to the baby shower. Try to pull her aside quietly at some point after it’s done, and really talk to her about what’s going on. Tell her that you want to be a part of her life but that you were hurt by how you’ve interacted lately and you just want to try to figure out if there was something you did or something you didn’t know about that caused it. If she still blows you off . . . well, OK, keep your distance. But she may surprise you and you two might be able to hash things out.

    1. No ding here, I agree. My first two thoughts were either miscarriage(s) or an otherwise long and difficult process to conceive.

    2. No ding from me either. I felt like there was something missing from the story, and I bet that’s it. I think sometimes “we” tend to center other people’s actions around ourselves and what’s going on in our own lives without thinking outwardly about what else could be causing those actions. I do agree with Wendy, though, in that, if you’re feeling bitterness and resentment, just stop trying. We all have people in our lives who give us the things we need. And then there are others who are just there. If you truly want a relationship with your SIL, try to find some other quality in her you can draw from, rather than look for things she is clearly not able to give you.

    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I agree she sounds VERY selfish in this letter.

      1. I agree that she’s coming across as self-absorbed and a bit immature in this letter, but I think that probably stems from her hurt at not having a close relationship with her SIL. So, I don’t think people should be too hard on her here.

        I also think that the SIL is acting very bitchy and immature, which may or may not stem from fertility issues that she has not shared with the LW. That doesn’t give her the right to act like a sulky brat, but maybe the LW should take a step back and cut the SIL some slack.

        Overall, I agree with pretty much everyone on both sides. Just let it go and quit trying so hard. If the shower is out of state, send a nice card and a gift and leave it at that. If it’s close by, go to the shower, put on a happy face for an hour, and after that back off and again, quit trying so hard. It is what it is.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Oh yea, I wasn’t trying to say SIL gets a free pass. They both need to turn it down a notch.

      3. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        Yeah. Nor did I. I don’t want people to think I’m siding with the SIL here. I just think sometimes people miss signs that — had they seen — would have painted issues in a whole new light. But then again I’m also the guy who hugs drug dealers, so what do I know? 🙂

      4. I think they’re both being selfish. The LW is selfish because it apparently never even crossed her mind that her SIL might be struggling with fertility, when it was probably the first thing that jumped to all our minds when reading the letter. Like Guy Friday said, if LW hadn’t been so wrapped up in herself she might have been able to see that there might be deeper reasons for the SIL acting the way she acted.
        And the SIL is selfish for letting her jealousy affect her behavior toward the LW’s pregnancy.
        THAT said, if the SIL was being snotty because of jealousy/fertility issues, then why hasn’t she changed her tune now that she’s pregnant?

      5. Ohh, Kerry said below that she could be scared of a miscarriage. She might even be having a high-risk or difficult pregnancy, so maybe she doesn’t want to field a lot of questions. Good point, @Kerry!

      6. i think the selfish parts were meant more as a history of why she doesn’t feel all gung-ho about wanting to be supportive for the SIL, than a ‘woe-is-me, she didn’t even care!’

    4. No ding… though I have to admit I had a different 2nd thought (and apologies if someone brought this up below):

      1. I thought SIL was having fertility issues and handled it all very poorly, and now its a spiral of ugly and selfishness.

      2. Second thought was that SIL is the older sister of LWs husband, perhaps the oldest child of that generation and combined with her “now we are trying” drunken announcement, that she was pissed not to be having her kid first. Sucks that people like this exist, just putting it out there as a possibility. Complete hypothetical but my money is on SIL was married first, and was expecting to deliver the first grandchild, etc…. and when she found out the plan in her head was just blown. Her “kid” brother is going to have a child first – Oh the humanity!!

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I agree about the “first” thing. Obvi, she is handling this very poorly (SIL) but I def felt a twang of jealousy when GGuy’s younger sister got engaged before us. I felt like we should go first since we’re older and had been together longer. Than I realized I was being nuts, squashed the idea, and celebrated her wedding!

    5. I agree, I thought she sounded selfish. Why do you need validation from them? I get 100% being hurt that they didn’t check in or call, but you had your husband and mother in law guilt them, why?

      Also, you do seem to want them to give me attention to your daughter than they do, my guess is that coupled with possible fertility issues caused your SIL to be fed up. (If not fertility issues maybe three couple isn’t on the same page about kids).

      I think you should put your big girl pants on, put your own drama aside and go and be happy for them. If you can’t and you plan to be resentful, don’t go.

      I’m not saying your SIL/BIL shouldn’t have done things different, but this letter did not gain my sympathy. I have had fertility issues, I have a sibling who isn’t in a place where he really cares about things like babies yet and I also now have children….I see both sides, maybe you should try too.

    6. Agree I’m wondering is the sil went through the trauma of infertility or something

  2. I’m guessing, not that it excuses her behavior in the least, that either a) she’d wanted to start trying far sooner than they did, but brother in law wanted to wait or they had to wait for some reason, and she resented you for having what she couldn’t or b) it took them far longer or it was a much more difficult process to conceive than she chose to share with you, and she resented you for having what she couldn’t.

    Or she thinks its weird that her brother in law’s wife is calling her and texting her so much and she doesn’t want that kind of relationship. Or she’s just a mean person. I agree with Wendy that at this point you probably have to accept that she is not interested in having the kind of close relationship that you are interested in having, and give up. And if she comes around, great. If not, at least you’ll have moved on to building supportive friendships with others who are interested in being your friend.

  3. I am going to differ on this. Do you have to go? Yes. Not for this person but for your husband and your MIL. If you need to help, think of it as helping your MIL and not your SIL. I think if you didn’t go, it would embarrass your MIL and she seems to be trying her best.

    1. I actually agree with this. Family is family. I don’t know if everyone has a difficult in-law, but we happen to have one in our family. Sometimes you just need to tough it out for the little time you spend there and then move on. A lot of members of our family were really trying to win this person’s approval and just spinning their wheels. Before long you realize it is a lost cause and stop trying. At the end of the day people behave in ways we sometimes do not understand, but I think it’s always important to be there for family. And if some of the other members of your family are going, at the very least go for them. Because chances are your SIL is sometimes difficult to be around and your MIL and any other family could use some support. The baby shower isn’t really about you, so sideline any personal issues for it.

      1. Yes, It took me years to be in an ok place with my SIL. However, I have never regretted the high road. Just show up, bring brownies, and call it a day.

      2. “I have never regretted the high road.”

        +1 million. Be the bigger person, LW. You may never be her bff, but you will always like yourself.

      3. I agree with, like, 99%. But sometimes I’m just like “Damn, when do I get to be the really small, petty person? SO TIRED OF THE HIGH ROAD UGH.” Of course, the other person probably would not even notice if you stooped to their level, so the satisfaction is fleeting.

    2. Lyndsay Smith says:

      I also agree. I have a difficult SIL. She is very much a hypocrite, treats my MIL like shit, and borders on being a terrible person when you see through her bull shit. That being said, I’ve suffered through several Christmas parties and other event simply because I know it’s what my MIL, whom I care about as if she were my mother, wants. Sometimes, you have to suck it up for the ones you care for and remember that you’re there to support them, not the person the party is actually for.

  4. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    You guys really think she needs to travel out of state for a baby shower? My own blood relatives wouldn’t do that for me!

    1. I thought the “she” flying was in regards to the SIL not the MIL.

      1. Same – I thought the SIL was flying in to where they are. Totally could have misread.

    2. Travel out of state – no. If it was close by I would say she should suck it up and go.

    3. something random says:

      Oops, I interpreted it as the SIL was flying in to the letter writer’s state.

      1. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

        I read it the same way – the pregnant SIL would be flying to the LW state.

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Now that I’m re-reading it again, you may be right. The MIL may live in the same state as the LW and is flying in the SIL for the baby shower? That’s not how I originally read it, which is why I gave the advice I did. LW: if you have to fly out of state for the shower, don’t go. But if it require no travel on your part, go. As for helping, I don’t think you have to. Unless you MIL asks for something specific and small — like you bake a quiche or something.

      3. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        Yeah, I read it as the SIL is flying in. If it’s the other way around, then I’d say she doesn’t have to go not because of the argument but because of the cost.

      4. Yeah, unless the LW is talking about herself in the third person. I think if the SIL is flying in, that’s more reason to go, like you said, Wendy.

    4. I don’t think it’s an out of state shower. It says the MIL is throwing it, and the SIL is flying in for it. I assumed the MIL and LW lived in the same area, and the SIL would be the one traveling. Who knows though.

      My cousin’s wife is having a baby in the fall, and I plan on going to her shower, even though it’s out of state (a 6 hour drive each way). But I love going to events like that. Not everyone does.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I’ve traveled all over the east coast for various showers. I love them.

      2. 3 of my cousins in NY got married over the last 2 years. My mom and I went up for each shower! It was awesome! We got up early Saturday, drove up 5 hours, hung out, went to the showers on Sunday and then drove 5 hours home. Sure, it was a lot of driving, but it was important to me to be there, plus I got some great bonding time in with my mom (even if I did want to shoot her after 10+ hours in a car with her…)

    5. kerrycontrary says:

      It depends on how out of state it is. If it involves flying, I don’t do it. My SIL’s friends threw her a baby shower in Chicago and only my mom went because I couldn’t afford the plane ticket. But driving 2-3hrs or taking a train to a baby shower? Yeh I do that.

      1. Totally agree. If it’s too costly, I’d rather save my money and fly out to see the kid after they’re born, rather than spend money traveling to see the mom when she’s still pregnant. I was fortunately that I was in my brother’s town on business a month before his kid was due, so I got to go to the baby shower. And then I traveled back up later to meet my (awesome) niece. But I would have only paid for the second trip.

    6. Wendy's Dad says:

      WTH? I was there.

      And is anyone else confused by the math problem that you have to solve in order to post? Are you supposed to enter digits or text? But if you can read this, I have already figured it out. As long as I don’t have to figure out cube roots of three-digit numbers, I should be able to continue commenting.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Not a judgment on anyone, but you were at my shower because you were already in st. louis. I can’t imagine anyone would have flown to nyc for a shower (nor would I expect them to). I wouldn’t get on a plane and fly somewhere for someone’s shower. Hell, most my (extended) family couldn’t even get on a plane to come to my wedding!!

      2. Stop trying to rationalize your family not liking you Wendy… they obviously don’t if they don’t stop everything they are doing and travel at considerable time and expense to celebrate every single one of your life’s milestones 😉

        SARCASM of course… and thankfully these math probs aren’t too hard (if we get beyond single digits it may impact my commenting)

  5. “I had to send them a text message to wish them congrats on becoming an aunt and uncle to even get a text response”

    I would send a friend who had just become an aunt a congratulory text, but I can’t imagine a NEW MOTHER sending such a text. The congratulations are normally going to the mom! This sentence just struck me as incredibly passive-aggressive. “Congrats on how MY bundle of joy will enrich your life!”

    Folks who are actually moms, am I off-base here?

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I thought that was a little weird. But then, I may have said congratulations to my parents when jackson was born on becoming grandparents (I can’t remember if I did or not, but it’s possible) and that’s kind of the same thing.

      1. I can totally see it for grandparents…not so much for the SIL’s! Not unless we had that kind of bantering jokey relationship.

    2. Unless the person has expressed crazy amounts of joy at the prospect of becoming and aunt or an uncle, I’m with you. I know my 18 year old SIL was excited as SHIT to become an aunt, so a message like that would have been appropriate, but sending it to a grown woman who hasn’t seemed all that excited about becoming an Aunt…?? Seems a little weird to me, too.

      1. I was excited when my husband’s sister gave birth and I became an aunt, but I’m also an only child and didn’t think I would ever get to be one… and had expressed that when the pregnancy was announced, so I get Yeah Aunt texts and pics which I appreciate. Otherwise it would be a little off.

    3. I could see it as a way to let them know the baby has arrived in a cute way.

    4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I think it’s super weird. Like “you’re now this cool thing because of what I did!” Very look at me, look at me, IMO.

    5. Bon Vivant says:

      Completely agree with this.

    6. My niece was born 5 days ago and my brother wrote me an email to announce it. It was “Your niece is born !” and I answered “Congratulations”. It would have been so incredibly weird for him to tell me “congratulations on your new niece !”.

      1. OK, I see the distinction now. I am in the “it is weird” camp!

    7. I never sent texts. I called my mom to let her know. I refused to call my sister. Granted, my sister was always with my mom so I assumed she’d hear from my mother anyways. And as usual, my sister was the first one at the hospital, with boyfriend of the week in tow before I’d had a chance to clean up, ignoring my “why are you here, nobody was supposed to be here yet”s. Yes, when it comes to my sister, I’m always going to be bitter.
      I’d elect a person to post on my livejournal/myspace/facebook/ on IRC whatever to post an update when the baby was born, but other than that – people could generally wait a day or two to come visit. My friends were/are laid back when it comes to kids. Especially my kids since I have so many of them! Texting is so impersonal though!

    8. One of our friends sent me flowers when I had my daughter that read “congratulations to us!!!” It was adorable.

  6. something random says:

    I’m thinking SIL’s issues probably have nothing to do with you, lw. It’s obvious she was struggling with fertility issues if it took her more than a year to get pregnant (I’m guessing they were trying before they found out you were pregnant). Two month olds are difficult to travel with and often so are their sleep-deprived, still-adjusting parents. SIL was obviously considering this more of a vacation time than a family-bonding trip. It hurts when when people disappoint and reject you. But a lot of time, it really does has nothing to do with you and it is more of a reflection of the other person’s struggles and failings. I would do what Wendy said and adjust your expectations. You are not going to have the friendship you wish you had. I would wish her well and accept where she is without over-reaching. It will be much better for you not to hold on to your hurt feelings.

  7. It sounds to me like you’re really forcing yourself and your family on your SIL. There’s no rule that says you have to be super close, especially when you live in different states! I like all 3 of my SILs, and all 3 live in different states, and I’d say that we have pretty good relationships. That said, I don’t call them or send them text messages all the time. I don’t try to force it. You she’s only 5 months pregnant but you’ve called multiple times to see how her pregnancy is going. BACK OFF. This is a person who obviously doesn’t like talking to you on the phone (since she’s not calling you back), and you keep calling!! Give the poor woman some space.

    As for the shower, if you’re asked to help, it would be nice to help, since you’re obviously interested in your SIL and your neice/nephew. But don’t offer your help unless you MIL asks you. Quit forcing yourself into these relationships.

  8. Instead of asking if you have to, think about if you’ll be asked to and what that will involve. Picking up a cake at a certain time or baking some cookies, probably won’t be the worst thing ever. Also like others have said back off. Don’t try so hard. If you have a relationship with her you do, if you don’t you don’t. Also why would you tell your MIL or your husband that the bil/sil hadn’t called? Are you 12? Are you tattling on them? Do you really want a forced congrats so bad? Why do you need that from them? Basically instead of focusing all of this negative energy on your sil focus on your family and stop trying so hard!

  9. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Who sends a text congratulating someone on becoming an aunt/uncle??

    No, you don’t have to go. But it will be the nail in the coffin of your relationship. I’d go, be polite, give a nice gift, and go home. Be the bigger (less crazy) person.

    1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

      Yeah, I hate when people get all cutesy obnoxious and fish for compliments. I have a relative in my family who posted on Facebook (before she told the family, mind you) “Guess which family has six fingers and is expecting two more?” This is also a woman who gets incredibly offended if you don’t obsess over her baby; the last time she came up to visit I had a little irrational mini-breakdown because it hit me that I had to push my plans for having kids back a few years from where I’d always wanted them, and even though I excused myself to a bedroom to get it all out she refused to speak to me for 2 days

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is “no one will be as excited about your thing (wedding, baby, new house, whatever) as you are”. Basically don’t expect the world to stop just because XYZ happened to you.

      2. Wait, what?!? Are you serious? I’m flabbergasted.

        Actually, going along with that, another piece of advice that I received and it took 30 odd years to learn is that most of the time, when people are acting shitty, it’s not a reflection on you. In fact, if someone is short with you for some reason, it’s probably not about you, but what is going on in his or her life. Learning to not take things so personally has done wonders for my well being.

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yup. Totally agree. It’s a very important (and hard) lesson to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around yourself!

      4. And some people are just a holes. There’s nothing you can do about it. So, as CSP said, I’ve never regretted taking the high road.

      5. I think for some people becoming a grandparent might be the exception to this rule… But yeah, for sure about weddings!

  10. This letter is centered around the LW and her baby and how the SIL treated her during and after the pregnancy. My advice would differ greatly depending on if this is normal SIL behavior, or just started happening with the LW getting pregnant.

    Regardless, I don’t think you necessarily need to help MIL with the shower, but I think you should at least attend and wish her well. Holding onto resentment and anger sucks. Well, it does for me anyway. So, I say let it go. And if in the long run, the SIL still sucks, you can limit your interactions, but she will always, theoretically always, be part of your life in some way. Why not be the pleasant one? Not only will you feel better about the situation, others will see the kindness too.

  11. Since when do “vacation” and “2 month old” belong in the same sentence? That wasn’t very nice of me! Sorry, LW. I think you need to back off and concentrate on your own family. I can’t imagine how an out of state SIL affects your life in any way. Good Luck!

  12. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

    Be cool, LW. I think you want this too much. You sound a lot like my mom – constantly wanting to do things for people and checking in to show you care. I’m pretty much the opposite, possibly in reaction to this – I find it really overbearing and claustrophobic when people are constantly asking how I am (current example: my dad is dealing with stage IV cancer and I hate constantly being asked how he’s doing even though I love that people care. It’s irrationally annoying to me). Anyways, if your SIL isn’t into keeping in constant contact, just let it go. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about you. And honestly, I would have lost my shit if I had to go on vacation with someone else’s 2-month old. Don’t keep forcing yourself on her because that’ll probably just drive you further apart. Go to the baby shower if it’s not a huge inconvenience for you, but respect that she doesn’t have the same desire to be close as you do.

  13. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    Your SIL obviously was suffering from fertility problems and must have felt like you were parading your baby in front of her. I can’t imagine the pain of infertility- couples who are going through that should be given some leeway to pull back from normal baby-centric activities.

    Were you expecting individual phone calls congratulating you from everyone you know? one person in a couple called my husband to say congrats then that couple has done their duty.

  14. What percentage of DW letters and forums could be answered with “Stop trying to make other people be who you want them to be”? A lot I bet.

  15. LW, First, I think you should attend the shower (assuming that it is happening so close to you). I also think you should consider helping your MIL with the shower. Hear me out. Your MIL is going to give your SIL a nice shower whether you help your MIL or not. Helping out with the shower isn’t really for the SIL: she’ll get a shower either way. Helping with the shower for your MIL.

    Second, I agree with WEES – your SIL’s fertility store is probably longer and more complicated than you realize. If this is true, your SIL was having fertility issues while you were on vacation together. Possibly even with hormones inside of her.

    Third, I don’t think you should hold the vacation against your SIL too much. I use my (precious little) vacation time to travel to see my out of state family (which includes my beautiful, smart twin nieces). But while I’m on my vacation, I don’t want to be limited by my nieces all the time. I did not make the life decision to have children at this time. I should be able to eat at a nice restaurant on my vacation. And holding babies is tricky. It sounds like your relationship with your SIL was fractured during the vacation (and, yes, part of that is because of your texts to her). When a relationship is frayed, it’s hard to ask if you can hold a baby – I’ve heard new mothers who feel jilted say “no” to requests to hold their babies. It’s rare. You probably wouldn’t have said “no.” But the chance was there. And you SIL didn’t want to take it. But maybe you offered to let her hold your baby and this is a moot point. But I think you would have included that in your letter. Again, not saying that you would have said no – but saying that your SIL wasn’t exactly in a place to be rational about babies.

  16. kerrycontrary says:

    I’m with everyone else that thinks the SIL was suffering from infertility. They’d probably been trying when you got pregnant, and then they had to try for another year (which can feel like forever! especially when their SILs get pregnant at the drop of a hat). This stress combined with an already difficult personality spells disaster. How would you like if you couldn’t get pregnant, but then had to spend your entire vacation around a brand new baby? It could be really really hard. She could also be terrified that she’s going to lose this baby, so maybe she doesn’t want a ton of questions asking how her pregnancy is going. Maybe she thinks you were insensitive to their fertility problems.

    I would go to the shower to be polite if it’s within driving distance. If she’s rude to you at the shower, then that reflects on her not you.

  17. This is a tough one – one the hand, I’m with Wendy, just send a gift and a card. However, it does sound like your SIL did have some fertility issues and probably was suffering a great deal more emotionally than you are aware, and it sounds like her attitude towards you on your vacation was her lashing out because of jealousy and being upset about her own situation. If you can afford it, maybe consider going to the shower as kind of one last way of reaching out.

    Something that I’ve learned, especially when it comes to family, is you will eventually hit a point with certain people where no longer having any expectations of them is the better choice. For your SIL, she may have a completely different mindset towards you once her baby is born and you are on a more “equal” playing field.

  18. LW, On the infertility front. My husband and I tried a year before we told people we were trying. We are now over two years into our struggles and I have had 2 miscarriages. I will tell you that I have sobbed over other people getting pregnant and having carefree pregnancies. I don’t like holding other people’s babies for fear of crying. My second pregnancy was not joyful because I knew it was a possibility that I would lose the baby. So when we told family, they were so excited and I was very reserved about it and we ended up losing that baby too. So while you are writing excited texts or wondering why she isn’t loving your baby enough, maybe she is sobbing the whole car ride home after your visits.

  19. This sounded so “Me, me, me” that I can’t fathom why you care at all about your SIL. You don’t seem to. All you seem to care about is her reaction to YOU. Let me clear something up – she doesn’t seem to care about you. You now have my permission to not give a rat’s ass about her in return. Does that make you feel better? Feign interest at social gatherings and for your husband/MIL’s sakes, but other than that, keep your distance, since we know you want to.

  20. I would honestly just suck it up and go to the shower. Buy a gift, smile, talk to people. I used to think the absence of my presence at events like this was the perfect “f you” to someone I couldn’t stand, but really it’s just petty. You are family, keep it civil but distant. And some of the things you wrote do sound somewhat selfish and annoying (sorry!)- like congratulating someone else on becoming an aunt or uncle? To me that sounds similar to congratulating your sister-in-law on getting a new sister when you married into the family. You don’t congratulate people on stuff that happened to you. Maybe you were just excited and upset about their lack of excitement, but just don’t.

    Like others have mentioned, you really don’t know if your sister-in-law was struggling with having a baby and then to get your congrats you’re an aunt text and seemingly incessant texts/phone calls/etc may have been a bit much for her. Also, I love children but a trip with a two-month old sounds like a nightmare unless they were my own kid.

    Sometimes, sister-in-laws aren’t the best of friends and that’s fine. I am no huge fan of my sister-in-law and I used to try to force this overly friendly relationship when I finally realized our personalities/values/lifestyles our so different, it just wasn’t going to happen.

  21. PumpkinNoodle says:

    I can relate to both sides of this story to an extent. My SO and I have been trying for sooooooo long to have a child, so when my younger sister (who was 19 @ the time) got preggers and wasn’t sure she even wanted my nefew I kept my distance. I love my sister, but I was severely depressed about the whole situation. We’ve been trying for yrs and her pregnancy was a “OOPS”. My sis kept trying to force me to be part of everything, doctors appointments, baby shopping etc etc etc. And I kept pushing her away. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for her, bc I truly was-especially when she decided to keep the baby- I was just trying to work out my own feelings of depression, being a failure as a woman and the like. But once I explained this to my sister, she understood and gave me space to figure it all out. Once I over came what was going on with me, I was able to share in her happiness with her. The reason I am sharing this story is bc you don’t know what was going on with your SIL during the time of your pregnancy, nor did you bother to ask. You just kept forcing your happiness in her face and then took her rejection as a personal slight against your pregnancy/daughter and your self. This scenerio might not even have been the case of your SIL, and she might not have cared just bc she didn’t care, idk. I do think that pregnancy is a touchy subject for alot of women, and if the person is not happy or acting happy for you there can be a number of reasons why. Maybe she doesn’t want a close relationship with you and your new family, maybe she was going through her own issues, who knows. But stop trying to force something that is not there. And if it bothers you that much, maybe you can try to have a conversation with your SIL to see if you guys can eventually become closer in the future. Sorry, I ended up rambling away with this. 🙂

  22. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

    I guess I disagree with everyone here but I am in complete agreement with Wendy. Just quit trying so hard. You can’t FORCE the relationship with her you want. And yeah, it might be petty, but don’t bother going. It’s only going to build resentment. I would be offended if my sibling, or my spouses sibling, or my spouses siblings wife (is this confusing yet?) didn’t care about an addition to my and THEIR family. Like holy fuck you are related to that little creature that just came out of me. Aren’t you excited?

    And for everyone crying that she might have fertility issues – okay maybe that’s true. But if she’s so self absorbed that she can’t be excited for the LW, fuck her. She’s petty and deserves a reality check that her problems don’t rule the world. This is me not being sympathetic. Someone’s pain shouldn’t have to diminish another person’s happiness. The LW shouldn’t have to stop expressing her joy just because someone around her is sad. ESPECIALLY when the SIL could see that this new baby is her joy too.

    And it’s pretty fucking pathetic to not even send a congrats text when someone – let alone a family member – has a baby. That’s the bare bones minimum to decent human behavior. Unless the SIL doesn’t consider the LW family – in which case – WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO GO TO THE SHOWER.

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      And I will never understand why it’s socially acceptable to cry over another person’s happiness. People don’t have babies AT you. I will never understand why people have no shame in admitting stuff like that, it’s embarrassing.

      1. Well…people aren’t perfect and not everyone has 100% perfect and appropriate reactions to everything they encounter in life. I don’t see the problem in admitting whatever you are feeling, You can’t help what you feel. You can redirect it and reframe it, and sometimes part of that process is admitting it.

      2. And I will never understand why people have no shame in admitting how judgy they are at the feelings of others.

      3. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        I will never understand why people have no shame in judging others making brilliant points that show how self absorbed people are and…. (I don’t know).

        At first I was joking that everyone around here is synced up but now I’m not so sure… today’s weird.

      4. I just feel that people have irrational feelings all the time. And if they feel like they can’t share their feelings for fear of being judged, that makes things worse, not better.

        Every time I have felt irrationally sad/jealous/whatever, as soon as I get it out on paper or by talking to someone, I immediately feel better.

      5. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        But this SIL didn’t have one little irrational feeling, she’s had years of irrational feelings. If this whole time she’s been pissed because she was trying to get pregnant and couldn’t, and she’s still acting like this, she’s self absorbed and crazy.

      6. Oh I agree in this case the SIL sounds pretty nuts.

    2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      I take pride in all of these downthumbs, for the record.

    3. WIWTTSS.

      ill even give you an extra thumb down because i like it so much… haha

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Sometimes being in the minority only means all the idiots are on the same side 😉

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        It’s not even what you said, it’s the holier-than-thou tone. I actually agree with your point, but the delivery is harsh.

    4. Sue Jones says:

      Agreed. The SIL sounds batshit. When my son was very young (2-3 months) I had my nanny come to work with me and watch the baby in the waiting area so I could breastfeed in between patients. I worked in a clinic as a self employed practitioner. The clinic owner was fine with it, patients loved it, everyone was fine with it, except for this one therapist who called to complain that “what if one of her clients had latent issues with infertility and seeing a baby would trigger her” Not that she HAD a client with infertility issues, but a “what if”… so it made her “uncomfortable” that I had a newborn with me at work. I was thinking to myself, “Does this therapist expect her hypothetical client not to see babies at the grocery store, at the park, at basically any public place that exists?” Well I kept the baby at home once he started crawling anyway, but geez, people need to suck it up and not expect everyone with a baby to walk on eggshells around them. And I have lots of empathy for people with fertility issues since it took me a long time to conceive my baby. I think the SIL’s behavior is WAY out of line. And again, if the shower is in town, make your appearance, but if she has to travel, then don’t. SIL sounds downright rude. And let’s make a bet that once SIL has her baby the world will revolve around HER.

  23. Both of the women in this letter come off as self-absorbed to me. It does seem like the SIL had fertility issues and that is why she was distant to the LW. But, I mean, at times, we have to put others’ happiness before our own pain if we want to maintain relationships with them, particularly when they are family. The SIL’s fertility issues may be the most important thing to her, but they don’t give her an excuse to disappoint others. By that same token, the LW seems to think the world should stop and begin to revolve around her because she had a baby. The baby may be the most important thing to her, but it isn’t to other people. Sorry, LW. There needs to be some give and take here. SIL should have reached out to LW because she knew the LW wanted her to do so. LW should have understood that sometimes other people have things that are bigger to them than her going on. And, in any event, playing tit for tat and saying “I’m not going to this baby shower because you didn’t do it for me” is just childish and petty. Go for the sake of your MIL, your husband and family harmony, LW. If all is as you believe, then you will be the bigger person, and you may learn that your SIL wasn’t intentionally slighting you.

  24. Buzzelbee says:

    The way I read this the LW and SIL are both married to brothers. I don’t understand why the LW and the SIL have to have much direct communication. Honestly, I’m not that close to my SIL (my husband’s sister) and I’d bet good money I didn’t call or email when she had her second and third children because we just don’t really do that. BUT my husband called and emailed and sent my good wishes and passed along news to me. I know a SIL is a part of you expanded family but I think it’s really on the original family (family of origin?) members to communicate. I guess that puts me firmly in the stop trying so hard category. However, I also don’t think the LW should retaliate or try and freeze out the SIL. If the shower is local, go. Support your MIL and force smiles because this is family and you want to maintain the ability to be friendly at family events. If it isn’t local, I agree with send a gift/note and that’s that. After the shower, don’t try so hard. If you aren’t putting in a bunch of effort that isn’t being recipricated I bet you’ll stop feeling so resentful.

  25. Sobriquet says:

    I can’t really speak to the specifics of this situation (since the LW is seemingly only upset at the ABSENCE of communication- not communication itself), but I can say that I’m in a similar boat with a soon-to-be SIL of mine and Wendy is spot on. My advice? Stop taking it so personally.

    The relationship with my SIL has ebbed and flowed, but basically been toxic from the beginning. I’ve tried to “start over” with her multiple times only to be disappointed down the line. But I’m learning that sometimes the people in my life are not who I want them to be and there’s nothing I can do about it but extract them from my life- or in this case, with family, change my expectations. Accept that it’s not about ME, but instead it’s her own bullshit. And after a couple years of this nonsense I’m finally able to step outside of the bubble and see that I’m not the only person in SIL’s life that she has a really hard time getting along with. (I’m on my phone so sorry this is so rambly!)

    I’ve decided to simply give her the same amount of my time and energy that I would give an acquaintance. Be cordial and kind. That’s all she deserves from me at this point. I’d urge you to do the same, LW. Don’t flame the fire or you’ll come across as the asshole. Buy her a nice gift and show the kind of enthusiasm you would have wanted whenever the baby arrives. You’ll be better for it.

  26. Anytime someone feels the need to spell out how hard they try to be a good person, I’m immediately skeptical of how successful their efforts are. And this letter didn’t let me down. The entire time I was reading this, I was rolling my eyes. LW, this woman owes you nothing, despite what you seem to think. You should get used to the idea that most people do not care about your pregnancy and baby anywhere near as much as you do. They are living their own lives, most of which take place outside your “Me and my baby” bubble. It would be nice if she were excited about this along with you, but you sound so narcissistic in this letter, it’s like it never occurred to you that she might have her own stuff going on. I’m not excusing her rudeness (drunk dialing, yelling on vacation), but you really sound like a piece of work. As for the baby shower, since you’d probably spend the entire time sulking about how no one was paying enough attention to YOUR baby, it might be better for everyone if you made yourself scarce.

  27. Sue Jones says:

    I say don’t go. You can use the ” I have a baby and travelling is too difficult” card for a while so use it. Send a onsie and a card and wish her well and that is it.

  28. Separate from my alternate theory above (that the SIL and husband are bor and sis and she was the older one and it wasn’t fertility issues at all, just feeling usurped in her place in the family – i.e. she should have the first grandkid) can I just say that I totally disagree with some of the comments shitting all over the vacation? OMG a vacation doesn’t involve a 2 month old type stuff, because that’s not true at all. Sounded more like a family reunion, annual or somewhat regular type of thing and regardless of whether it was infertility issues or general being an asshole issues – the SIL chose to attend a vacation where SHE KNEW a 2 month old would be there. If she couldn’t handle it for one reason or another she had the ability to not go or to discretely give a heads up to family in advance that she wasn’t completely ok… if she just wanted a relaxing vacation instead of dealing with an infant, that’s even more on her. If that piece of the letter is true there is NO reason to yell or scream at someone just because your vision of fun hasn’t been attained or you have to work around others. I mean it’s a family vacation… isn’t working around the schedules and whims of the family part of the deal? Don’t like it, then take your own vacay 🙂

    1. But, could it also be that every year before the baby, they would go out to a bar at night. Now the LW is like, with the baby, nobody can go out? IT reminds me of my family vacations and there were a few years where my brother and I could go out to bars and my sister was still too young. So my parents would be like, “don’t leave her out” and we would be like, “the legality of her situation isn’t our problem.”

    2. Breezy AM says:

      It’s not sure she knew the baby would be there.
      I mean, I would ASSUME my sibling and his wife were bringing their newborn, because I am a parent and can’t imagine leaving a 2 month old behind (that is not judgy! I mean I personally cannot imagine it! Some people can, and have done it!) so I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see the baby. SIL may have been “WTF?!” about it and truly gobsmacked and not expecting it at all, especially if it was more of a drink and party type resort, especially if she wasn’t even expecting it.

  29. Really, you HAD to send a text message to congratulate them on becoming Aunt and Uncle? What would have happened if you hadn’t sent that message– anything bad? My guess is nothing. This just sounds like a super passive-aggressive way to FORCE Aunt and Uncle to congratulate you, in turn, on giving birth, after you congratulate them on their new status as aunt/uncle. Honestly, you should be glad they even responded, I think I would have ignored a text like that. Would it have been nice of them to text you right away? Sure. But they didn’t and a forced congratulations isn’t much better than silence, in my opinion.

    Sometimes, people don’t react to things in your life the way you wish they would. SIL and BIL are these people– they are not living up to your expectations on how they should behave. You can’t force them to change, and sending passive-aggressive texts is not the way to go. Instead, WWS, lower your expectations.

  30. Bittergaymark says:

    Honestly? In the spirit of promoting harmony in the family — I would go. Being cunty to a cunt NEVER solves anything. Be the BIGGER person. It astounds me how rarely anybody above a byline offers up this simple advice.

    1. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

      I think we found the next DW mug slogan- “Being cunty to a cunt NEVER solves anything”. I want to drink my coffee out of that phrase every morning.

      1. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:


      2. DW Mug: “Cunty begets cunty” caption below BGM picture

  31. I think the LW and sil are just not going to have a close relationship and thats ok. The fact that they both married two brothers is all that seems to bind them and sometimes thats not enough to have a ‘relationship’ Also, if the SIl was on fertility drugs, can that explain some of the cray cray behavior? From what I’ve read, that shit is INTENSE. Like, PMS pregnancy menopause combined on some women’s systems. its a HUGE deal to be pumped up with so many hormones and throwing your body out of sync on purpose. OF course it’ll impact moods. So IDK give her a break and since things were never close, its no real surprise. Just smile and be pleasant, show up for things but stop forcing a relationship. Let your husband and his brother decide how much of an uncle he wants to be and how close the cousins are.

  32. Does anyone else hate baby showers? To me they’re like the fifth circle of hell. “Oooo”ing and “ahhhh”ing over the baby bump, diaper cake, whatever. I love kids but I kind of hate some of the baby shower traditions.

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      The diaper game makes me hate humanity. But I guess I don’t really like babies in general? I’m happy when they’re born because it’s cool to know that they will most likely (assuming they’re related to me) turn into an awesome person I can get drunk with and go camping with/do whatever with, so that’s exciting. But yeah nothing about babies appeals to me.

      1. Hahaha, I hate having to oooo and ahhh at EVERY gift. Like “ohh, that’s SO CUTE!” for everything. Some stuff is cute and awesome, but ugh it makes me want to hurl. I want babies of my own someday but at this point in my life I’m with you iwanna…

    2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Although! My best friend had a baby shower and it had a keg and drinking games and it was a blast, so I guess baby showers only suck if the people suck? Who knows, I try to skip all baby showers and send a gift unless I’m RIDICULOUSLY close to the people.

  33. Painted_lady says:

    So everyone has great points. I think the SIL is being kind of an ass, but I think the LW is being insensitive. Sure, in a perfect world, we all act appropriately, and we handle our emotions ourselves and don’t take them out on people who have done nothing to us…but it’s not a perfect world. And when people we care about (or at least want to care about us/our lives?) are clearly acting out of character or in a way we don’t understand, sure, we can completely cut them out of our lives for asshattery….except eventually it’s going to get really lonely. If you want a relationship with someone, the right thing to do when someone is acting in a way you don’t understand should be to ask them about it. “Hey, this thing was hurtful, what’s going on?” or “You’re not acting like yourself. Is something wrong?” And yeah, as the out-of-character/irrational party, you can also fucking speak up, whether or not you’re asked. If you can’t keep your behavior in check, you owe people the courtesy of saying so, even if it’s just, “I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m having a hard time dealing with some stuff, and this baby stuff is really bringing it to the forefront. I’m sorry if I’m acting less than stellar.” It doesn’t give you carte blanche to be an asshole, but it will create a little more space for some empathy.

    Also, look, maybe your SIL doesn’t like you, or maybe she’s one of those people that isn’t very good about asking people about their lives? I’m pretty terrible about just shooting people a text to ask how they are. I’ve never actually texted my cousin about her baby, and it’s probably shitty of me, except it literally doesn’t occur to me. I’m not great at small talk. I’m very out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and it has not a damn thing to do with how much I care about people (and I think about them a lot, but I’m, I dunno, in my head? enough that it never occurs to me to call and ask about them on my own). I’ve probably offended lots of people. My cousin (different one) will occasionally passive-aggressively text me like, “Oh my test was fine, thanks,” and it makes me want to punch her. I have my own life, and I love her, but I just don’t work that way, and implying I’ve done something wrong by not remembering all the details of her life is maddening. If she needs to step away because I don’t provide appropriate support, fine. But trying to manipulate me into feeling bad? It’s shitty and has kind of the opposite effect.

    1. I agree with this. My take is that LW is expecting a lot of social interaction with SIL because SIL is a woman. (Notice how LW is pinning everything on SIL even though her BIL is likely not texting a lot either!). It’s almost as if LW and SIL are supposed to manage the family relationships even though it’s their husbands who are actually family. LW probably comes from a family where the women constantly call and text each other, and SIL is probably just not that sociable or she simply isn’t that interested in having a close relationship with LW. The thing is, there is no obligation to regularly text or call a SIL or to go on vacations with them. I’m not sure I’ll ever pick up a habit of directly getting in touch with my SIL on the regular instead of staying in touch via my SO and his brother. I don’t really see the need.

  34. I assume, like many others, that the SIL was having fertility problems and was having a hard time with it. Obviously, the screaming at you was a little much, but in reading all the lengthy descriptions of times when the SIL didn’t ask you enough questions about your baby, I wanted to ask, so what?

    Go or don’t go to the shower, but I do think there are better things to think about than quantifying someone’s caring for you, especially when it’s someone you’re not super close with and don’t have that close bond with to begin with.

    1. I honestly thought most people didn’t like being asked questions during pregnancy. With my best friend, I would ask her how she felt and how the baby was since we talk about pretty TMI stuff. But for the most part, she didn’t want other people asking so many questions about her body.

  35. bittergaymark says:

    I have several thoughts on this. I posted my initial post when I was in a rush and literally ONLY read Wendy’s advice. At the time — this letter just struck me very odd. Many of you all touched on the fertility issues that could possibly explain — if not exonerate the sister in law. Everybody has already made that argument rather well. I have nothing to add there.

    But what struck me strange was all this anger and sadness about missing texts.

    Seriously? I have a GREAT relationship with my brother-inlaw — but I like NEVER text him. Ever. Nor do I call him on his phone. Do people REALLY do this? To me, it really seems like the LW is constantly expecting a command performance from those who meet her offspring — an attitude that is most likely and most possibly very offputting.

    1. I agree about the texting. First of all, the brother called a week later. (Which should cover the “congratulations!” from the SIL as well). A week doesn’t sound that long, especially to us without kids. I would think “well you may be in the hospital for a couple of days, then getting settled in back home, and I don’t want to call the person who gave birth because they’re probably exhausted between recovering and breastfeeding, etc”. A phone call is worth a lot more than a text.

  36. lets_be_honest says:

    No one is paying attention to this anymore, but I’ll comment anyway.
    I also immediately thought SIL had fertility issues, so that really sucks. I agree you should stop trying so hard, but I guess good for you that you did for a while at least?
    I don’t understand what’s wrong with saying congrats on being an aunt though. I don’t think that people say that so they can shove their baby in other people’s faces or make it all about them. I think they say it because its a cute thing to say and people usually are excited about babies. This whole ‘no one cares about your baby as much as you’ is correct, but it doesn’t mean no one care about your baby, period. Babies, and weddings, are excited. People who care about you will usually be excited about those things. A couple weeks ago, I congratulated my friend’s in-laws by saying congrats on being an aunt/grandma, etc. I feel like that’s cute and normal.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I think it’s different depending on who it’s coming from. Like the person who had the baby (like in this case) it seems showy to me. A friend who is excited for another friend/family member, is just being nice (like what you did).

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I just don’t see this as showy. People are excited about their babies. Unless the mom is like ‘you really should thank me now for giving you the gift of a baby to love,’ I don’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, you are saying it to a family member. Most family members are happy to have a baby in the family.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I get what you’re saying. IMO, saying “Baby Sara was born!” makes more sense than “Congrats, you’re an aunt.” but it really is semantics.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I think that’s being super nitpicky, but obviously some people are extra sensitive to baby announcements.

      4. Bittergaymark says:

        To me, the wording is just strange. It is asking — no, make that begging for attention and or compliments. Imagine if somebody you know got an amazing new job and you got a text from that person saying: “Congrats on being friends with somebody whose career is epic!”

      5. Haha, I agree the wording on it is a bit strange, but honestly, if I knew a friend was waiting on word from their dream job or something, I’d be super excited to receive that text!

      6. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Haha, that’s what I thought, BGM. To me this wasn’t a way of announcing the birth of the baby. It seemed like a passive aggressive way of demanding attention and congratulations. Congratulating someone on being an aunt would be okay if the person had clearly shown excitement about being an aunt, but that clearly wasn’t the case here.

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        I guess I just like babies more than other people? I mean just a few days ago everyone congratulate d taramonster on being an aunt. I feel like everyone I know would send and/or happily receive a text like that though.

      8. I think it’s boils down to “know your audience”. My brother and SIL don’t really like kids, so I would never text them saying “Congrats Aunt and Uncle!”, but my 19 year old SIL?? She’d die from happiness over something like that! Hopefully you’d know someone well enough to know what would be appropriate.

      9. I don’t think it’s showy. What it is is passive-aggressive and manipulative. She outright admits she was unhappy they hadn’t called or texted within her approved timeframe for expressing their admiration of her accomplishment, so she sent the text to manipulate them into doing what she wanted. It’s just gross.

      10. It’s also all of a piece with the LW’s ME ME ME ME tone in general. I have the feeling this is not the only questionable text and email along these lines that has been sent. Just… get over yourself and stop expecting people to perform for you.

  37. Sometimes it’s best to not try to be best friends with a SIL. I am always cordial and polite and observe typical protocals with my SIL for the sake of my brother. They live far away

    I do not attempt to become friends with SIL because she is self-absorbed, arrogant, rude, and insulting to people she cannot use in some way (including me).

    I sent presents to my young niece that were unacknowledged by my brother or SIL, so I now instead contribute monthly to a college education fund for my niece.

    I continue to send birthday gifts (items requested by my SIL) to my SIL with a nice card even though SIL consistently and repeatedly sends me birthday gifts that are clearly regifts. Example: For my last birthday, she mailed me a scented “Thank you for being a great teacher” candle. I am not a teacher. She is.

    One year SIL asked what I wanted for a bday present. I requested a donation (of any amount) to a charity that is near and dear to my heart. She made a donation to her favorite charity and explained the cause she supports is better than the one I support. I took the high road. At least a donation was made to a good cause.

    One year SIL sent me a present that made no sense to me, but I didn’t say that. She later explained (without prompting) that she sent me what she wished for so I would know what to get her for her next birthday.

    Christmas presents were the same. When my niece was born, I suggested that we adults stop exchanging Christmas presents “so we could instead focus on their child/my niece.'” For my niece for Christmas, I contribute to the education fund.

    I don’t complain to my brother. He is quietly unhappy in his marriage but wants to stick it out. I value my relationship with him, so I ignore the pettiness of his wife. I seldom have to be around her and that is for the best. The times I have talked on the phone with SIL, 100% of the conversation was about her.

    With SILs, sometimes a polite relationship with infrequent contact is best.

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